How to talk to young people about the future of work

How to talk to young people about the future of work

The rapidly evolving future of work can be a daunting subject for young people. As identified in the Foundation for Young Australians’(FYA) New Work Order report, the way we work is increasingly changing due to three global forces; automation, globalisation and flexibility.

These forces will see more jobs taken by robots, more work performed remotely and more people managing several jobs at once. While these changes bring many challenges, they also bring opportunities. Through our New Work Order report series we have aimed to understand what these challenges mean and how we can best prepare young people so they are ready to thrive in the changed landscape of work.

At FYA, we believe there’s a need for a national conversation around this issue. We need to see a collaborative approach that brings together a cross section of the community including industry, government, young people, the community sector and educators.

In the meantime, here are some tips on how to talk to young people about these changes.

Enterprise skills are important

The third report in our series, The New Basics, showed the importance of enterprise skills both now and in the future. It found that demand for these skills is on the rise, particularly in jobs of the future. These jobs will demand enterprise skills 70% more than jobs of the past.

These are transferable skills that allow young people to be enterprising so they can navigate complex careers across a range of industries and professions. They include problem solving, financial literacy, digital literacy, teamwork, and communication.

Young people should know that enterprise skills are important. When talking to young people about these skills, you could encourage them to look at our research and see the full list of skills. From there, encourage them to think about how they might already be developing these skills. This could be financial literacy through a part time job; developing project management skills while leading their group assignment at uni; or communication skills when presenting in front of a class. If there’s skills they haven’t focussed on yet, encourage them to think about how they might be able to start.

When applying for a job that calls for enterprise skills, encourage them to highlight these in their application. They should also practice talking about them ahead of an interview.

FYA’s $20 Boss program is a demonstration of how enterprise skills can be taught in the classroom. You can find out more here.  

Jethro Tessman, Jett Ashdale and Jake Bailey from St Phillips College, Alice Springs who won the best business $20 Boss award in 2015.

Don’t ask what young people want to be when they grow up

A lot of discussion around the future of work focuses on which jobs will disappear and which will remain. These are important factors, but they don’t help young people make decisions about their future.

Our most recent report, The New Work Mindset, analysed a big data set of job advertisements which revealed 7 new job clusters in the Australian economy where the required skills are closely related. This analysis also showed that when a person trains or works in one job they acquire skills for 13 other jobs.

This is a helpful idea to share with young people. They should understand that in the future linear careers will be far less common. This means that they shouldn’t aim to prepare for just one job, but rather develop a portfolio of transferable skills and capabilities that will help them navigate a more complex world of work.

On top of this, they could look at the clusters in the report and think about which ones they have most affinity with. This means looking at the clusters and thinking about the related jobs that fit their interests and strengths. They could then think about the training that might help them get a set of skills that is relevant to these jobs and also an early career job that will help them build the necessary experience.

For a deeper dive on these topics, be sure to take a look at our New Work Order report series.

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